European Commission

Weekly meeting | 08/03/2016

Towards a Pillar of Social Rights, reformed rules for posted workers and a rebalancing of the economy

The Commission launches a consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights, proposes a reform of the Posting of Workers Directive and looks at Macroeconomic Imbalances in Member States.

As part of a Social Package the Commission presented a first outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights and launched a public consultation on it. It also tabled a legislative reform proposal of the Posting of Workers Directive for a deeper and fairer European labour market.

European Pillar of Social Rights

The European Pillar of Social Rights is part of the Commission's work to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. It will set out a number of essential principles to support well-functioning and fair labour markets and welfare systems within the euro area. Other EU Member States are able to join if they want.

The experience of the past decade and a half has shown that persisting imbalances in one or more Member States may put at risk the stability of the euro area as a whole.

The principles proposed do not replace existing rights, but offer a way to assess and in future, help foster the better performance of national employment and social policies.

Throughout 2016, the Commission will engage in a debate with other EU institutions, national authorities and Parliaments, social partners, civil society, experts from academia and citizens. The outcome of this debate should feed into the establishment of the European Pillar of Social Rights early in 2017.

Once established, the Pillar should become the reference framework to screen the employment and social performance of participating Member States, to drive the process of reforms at national level and, more specifically, to serve as a compass for renewed convergence within the euro area.

These measures have been taken on the basis of commitments made by President Juncker in his State of the Union speech on 9 September 2015, and following the first orientation debate held by the College on 27 January 2016.

Public consultation

The Commission also launches a broad public consultation to gather views and feedback from other European institutions, national authorities and parliaments, social partners, stakeholders, civil society, experts from academia and citizens.

This initiative is targeted at the euro area, while allowing other EU Member States to join if they want to do so. The online consultation will run until the end of 2016.

Posting of Workers

The College also adopted a proposal for a targeted revision of the 1996 Posting of Workers Directive. It translates a commitment of this Commission to promote the principle that the same work at the same place should be remunerated in the same manner. The aim of this proposal is to facilitate the posting of workers within a climate of fair competition and respect for the rights of workers, who are employed in one Member State and sent to work temporarily in another by their employer. More specifically, the initiative aims at ensuring fair wage conditions and a level playing field between posting and local companies in the host country. The proposal will introduce changes in three main areas: remuneration of posted workers, including in situations of subcontracting, rules on temporary agency workers, and long-term posting. This reform of the 1996 Posted Workers Directive will complement the 2014 Enforcement Directive on Posted Workers, which is to be transposed in national law by June 2016. The Enforcement Directive provides for new instruments to fight fraud and abuse and to improve administrative cooperation between national authorities in charge of posting. Between 2010 and 2014 the number of postings has increased by almost 45%. In 2014, around 1.9 million European workers were posted to other Member States.

Macroeconomic Imbalances

In addition, the College took the next steps in the European Semester cycle of economic policy coordination. Following the publication of the Country Reports at the end of February, Commissioners discussed the economic and fiscal situation of the Member States and took decisions in the context of the Macroeconomic Imbalances Procedure (MIP).

EU Member States are making progress in addressing imbalances in their economies: In 2016 fewer Member States have economic imbalances than a year ago. They have also advanced in carrying out the country-specific recommendations issued last year, although to varying degrees across countries and policy areas.

These efforts are key in strengthening the European recovery and fostering convergence. They also reflect the focus of this year's European Semester: re-launching investment, implementing structural reforms and pursuing responsible fiscal policies.

As of this year, the Commission has streamlined the MIP from six to four categories of macroeconomic imbalances: no imbalances, imbalances, excessive imbalances, and excessive imbalances with corrective action.

From now on, all Member States that are found to have imbalances or excessive imbalances will be subject to specific monitoring adapted to the degree and nature of the imbalances. This will enhance the surveillance of Member States' policy responses through an intensified dialogue with the national authorities, through missions and through progress reports.

Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy and Portugal are found to be experiencing excessive imbalances.

Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Slovenia are found to be experiencing imbalances.

Austria and Estonia, which had in-depth reviews for the first time this year, are deemed not to be experiencing imbalances. Belgium, Hungary, Romania and the United Kingdom are found not to be experiencing imbalances.

On 9 March, as part of the 2016 European Semester and following up on its recent winter economic forecastpdf Choose translations of the previous link , the Commission reminded Member States of the need to take measures necessary to meet their obligations under the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).

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